From Joost – thanks Joost!

It’s great how a seedling idea can take root! Specifically, I’ve been a big fan and supporter of both the IDDS — the International Development Design Summits, which have been organized by Amy Smith and colleagues at MIT for the past two summers — and the growing set of Maker Faire‘s — orchestrated by the maestros at Make‘zine! So when my colleague Lars Torres, who runs the MIT IDEAS Competition, told me of emergent plans for a Maker Faire Africa — proposed by Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles — I immediately suggested coinciding the timing of the event with the finale of IDDS 2009 which will be in Kumasi, Ghana at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Well, it’s bubbling up, and will most probably happen! (It’s not yet a done-deal, but surely the folks at Make will love it!) Check out AfriGadget‘s supportive post –Maker Faire: Africa 2009!

 

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No, it’s not scheduled to happen yet, or anywhere near it, but we’re heartened by this discussion on Afrigadget and Ned forums about the possibility of holding a Maker Faire in Africa next year. The amount of clever, locally appropriate innovation that gets profiled on blogs like Afrigadget leave us continually impressed, and also frustrated that more attention isn’t paid, or more capital and distribution channels made available.

The domestic Maker Faires that have been going on in the US for the past few years have featured a combination of whimsy, hi-tech, development, and hobbyist work. An African Maker Faire though, according to the post, would focus on fabrication, asking, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?

Although specifics are lacking, interest appears high, and an organizing team for the effort will be meeting next summer at Nkrumah University in Ghana as part of the International Development Design Summit. Best of luck, guys — we’re fascinated.

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I’ve been thinking for a while now how great it would be to have a Maker-Faire-type event in South Africa when Jess Hemerly from the Institute for the Study of the Future sent me a link to an AfriGadget post by Erik Hersman on the idea (original post by Emeka Okafor is here). I always wanted the iSummit to be more about really making stuff: making, building, working together on concrete, real things that you can touch, test and experiment with (Maker-Faire’s strapline encapsulates my favorite things in the world: build, craft, hack, play). I think it’s one of the best ways to learn and one of the most important ways to show how innovation can work in the digital space after the event (where there isn’t the awesome opportunity for people to get together physically).

According to AfriGadget, the organising team of the Ghana event ‘will collaborate with the organizers of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS), which will be held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in mid/late Summer 2009?. There are so many potential partners for an SA event, but I’m particularly interested in the intersection of music and the arts (thinking of Dean Henning’s awesome musical toys ‘basic circuit bending’ experiments at LiquidFridge in 2007).

More soon…

Pic by Nortis on Flickr CC BY NC SA

Hash at Afrigadget reports on the plans for a Maker Faire-Africa 2009:

The focus here is not on high-tech, but on manufacturing. Specifically, fabrication, the type of small and unorganized businesses that pop up wherever an entrepreneur is found on the African continent. It gets exciting when you think about gathering some of the real innovators from this sector into one place where they can learn from each other and spread their knowledge from one part of the continent to another…[continue reading]

A couple weeks ago one of our inspirations for AfriGadget – Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles – put forward an idea on the Ned forums about a “Maker Faire Africa“.

The aim of a Maker Faire-like event is to create a space on the continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified, propagated, etc. Maker Faire Africa asks the question, “What happens when you put the drivers of ingenious concepts from Mali with those from Ghana and Kenya, and add resources to the mix?

The focus here is not on high-tech, but on manufacturing. Specifically, fabrication, the type of small and unorganized businesses that pop up wherever an entrepreneur is found on the African continent. It gets exciting when you think about gathering some of the real innovators from this sector into one place where they can learn from each other and spread their knowledge from one part of the continent to another.

 
Old bicycle turned into a furnace bellows Simon Mwangi A Welding Machine
 

A few fabrication stories on AfriGadget:

The organizing team will collaborate with the organizers of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS), which will be held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in mid/late Summer 2009, to ensure a well-timed, visible, and celebratory event that draws upon IDDS outcomes and attracts new participants. The aim of Maker Faire Africa 2009 will be to establish partnerships and an organizing infrastructure that could lead to a series of events across the continent.

Needless to say, AfriGadget is 100% behind this initiative and will take an active role in both promotion and organizing, as needed.